The question as to whether or not to do a postgraduate degree is one which almost every graduating student faces. Wanting to maintain the student lifestyle and delay life in the real world is often a contributing factor to applying for a masters but postgraduate programmes have a lot more emphasis on self-funding, putting students under large financial strain in a lot of cases. Because of this, it’s worth considering whether a postgraduate degree is absolutely necessary for your chosen career path or if you’ll just be wasting your time, money and effort.
1. MArch Degree in Architectural Studies
This postgraduate programme is integral to become a fully qualified architect, an undergraduate degree not being sufficient. For instance, the Cardiff University course (i’ll be referencing Cardiff University programmes where possible as this is my university) satisfies Part 2 of the UK professional qualification for architects and is approved by the RIBA and the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Whether you want to partake in an additional two years of university education or not, there’s no way you’re going to get your dream architecture job without this postgraduate degree, so find the university offering the course that best suits you and get applying!
2. LLM Degree in Bar Professional Training Course
Law students with their minds set on working as a barrister will need to complete this one-year master’s programme before their pupillage period. Getting a place on this course is far from easy, needing to pass the Bar Aptitude test, as well having graduated with at least a 2:1 in the case of the Cardiff University course. This isn’t a surprise, given the importance of barristers in the UK legal system, a lot of training is obviously needed to prepare you for this profession.
3. MScd Degree in Orthodontics
To specialise in orthodontics rather than standard dentistry, dentistry graduates are required to take a postgraduate degree in this area. Due to the specialism, the course is usually spread over three years so make sure you’re 100% certain this is your dream job!
4. PGCE Degree in Post-Compulsory, Secondary or Primary Education and Training
Teaching is a popular career path and also a profession which carries huge responsibility. Having the education of the next generation in your hands is a huge deal, hence why further training is necessary. Just because you have the subject knowledge to teach, doesn’t mean you have the methods to teach or the means to deal with challenging behaviour, which is why a PGCE is an obligatory step in becoming a teacher, whether it be primary, secondary or post-compulsory. You’ll never be hired in this industry without this qualification, but the good news is that almost every UK university that offers postgraduate study will offer these courses due to their high demand and the entry requirements tend to be a little lower than some other courses.
5. PhD Research Degree
A postgraduate PhD programme is pretty essential for those wanting to pursue a career in academia. It will give you the opportunity to delve deeper into your area of interest within your subject and meaningfully contribute to the research surrounding it over an extensive 3-4-year period. Becoming an established researcher of reference is vital in order to build your academic profile and become a recognised and respected name in the field.
1. MSc Degree in Advanced Computer Science
Any postgraduate degrees preceded by the word ‘advanced’ probably aren’t essential to obtain the job you want. Especially in the case of computer science, I personally know a recent graduate who has landed himself a DarkWeb analyst position working for South Wales Police crime unit without needing to do any further study – that’s a pretty incredible job if you ask me! If you’ve gained the necessary skills from your undergraduate degree, you’ll develop advanced skills on the job, employers don’t expect you to have a postgraduate qualification at entry level.
2. MA Degree in Ecology or Conservation
A master’s in this field is equally inessential as an unspecialised undergraduate degree, such as biology or similar, will have allowed you to take relevant modules in this area. Whilst you may have to start out by volunteering with an ecological organisation to get your foot in the door and some experience under your belt, learning on the job is valued much more than a postgrad qualification. Getting hands on in an internship or graduate scheme is the best way to get into this line of work, positions such as ecological consultants soon coming within your grasp – a title which sounds as if it requires a master’s, but in fact doesn’t.
3. MA Degree in Translation Studies
Although this may seem more specialist, the truth is that most employers value experience over academic qualifications. Even if you lack experience, the likelihood is that you’d be no worse at the job than someone with a master’s, as programmes are often heavily theory based and lack practice. Instead of doing a year’s further study, get yourself some work experience and a great letter of recommendation and you’ll be set – you’ll learn way more about how the industry works this way than you would studying at postgrad level.
4. MA Degree in English based subjects such as Journalism, Linguistics or Creative Writing
Postgraduate schemes of this nature are totally unnecessary. In the same way as the previous industries, you learn on the job in these professions, therefore an English related undergrad degree of any kind will be sufficient for employers to consider hiring you. If you want to continue studying linguistics, it would be more beneficial to do a PhD degree to stand you in good stead for a career in academia. If you want to pursue a career in the publishing sector however, internships and grad schemes are the way to go – the most common way of achieving your dream editing job is to start at the bottom and work your way up. If you want to make it as a successful writer, you normally either have the talent or you don’t. Trying to improve your writing by doing a master’s seems like a waste of time to me when you can probably attend writing workshops for free or little cost in your spare time to achieve the same outcome.
5. MA Degrees in unspecialised subjects such as Mathematics or Music
These postgrad degrees really are just an excuse to keep studying and almost look boastful on a CV. How complex can a subject really get? Instead of continuing to study the subject so broadly, why not specialise it a bit so that you’re tailoring your study to your chosen career, e.g. Finance or banking rather than mathematics or music therapy or a PGCE rather than just music? Sticking to these broad, unspecialised subjects only highlights your lack of career prospects and sense of adventure. No employer is going to advantage someone with a master’s in what can be studied at undergraduate level – you just won’t stand out.